The City of Jackson, a defendant in a lawsuit over how it is handling the current water-billing crisis, sent out two press statements Wednesday night announcing a victory for its defense in the legal action.
Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Tiffany Grove has disqualified former city attorney Pieter Teeuwissen, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Jackson residents in June. Grove explained that Teeuwissen was involved in the negotiations and enforcement of the controversial performance contracting agreement with Siemens Inc. that cost the City $90 million and is at the heart of multiple legal disputes. The City has also sued Siemens and several local subcontractors who financially benefited from the contract.
The agreement Teeuwissen worked on "is the core of both the current litigation as well as a pending lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Hinds County filed by the City against Siemens Industry," Grove wrote.
Teeuwissen, Judge Grove wrote, was city attorney between July 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2013. "During that time period, he represented the City in virtually all aspects of the Performance Contracting Agreement between the City and Siemens Industry; specifically, he negotiated two amendments to the Agreement and provided legal support in ensuring enforcement of the Agreement," she stated in the Sept. 10 order.
To avoid "the appearance of impropriety" under the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct for legal representation, Grove also disqualified Teeuwissen's law partner Anthony R. Simon, who was co-bond counsel, and Jeffrey M. Graves of Graves Legal Services, ordering them to not talk to the media about the case.
The lawsuit can continue without the three lawyers, Grove wrote. "In addition, the Court finds that Plaintiffs will not be significantly prejudiced by the disqualification of current counsel," the judge wrote.
Teeuwissen and co-counsel filed the lawsuit against the City of Jackson on June